I’ve always been something of a power user of Microsoft Office ever since the release of version 1.0 back in 1993. But more and more nowadays I find myself creating google docs instead. I find the convenience and simple design along with the ease of sharing a document with anybody either in private or public mode just too compelling to resist. The biggest complaint I hear about google docs (especially from Microsoft folks) is they lack the rich feature sets and sophistication of Office documents, which is very true. My take on that argument is that like most people I rarely use the more sophisticated features found in Excel or Word or Powerpoint. In fact studies have shown the majority of people use Excel to create lists of “things” which they can then sort and/or add up. And I don’t know about you but I’m completely turned off whenever I see a powerpoint presentation designed to overwhelm with attempts to impress by overdosing on all the advanced features. I read somewhere that “Simple is the new sophisticated” and google docs certainly fit this description. But the real power of google docs lies in the ability to easily share them with others. You can invite others to work on a document with you…even have multiple people updating the same document simultaneously (each persons updates appear in a different color). Documents can be shared privately so login is required to view…or publicly with a URL that opens the document for anybody without a requirement to log in.
The biggest advantage of docs for me is being able to access them from any computer. I’m so tired of being tied to one particular computer just because Outlook is installed on it or having to physically move office documents from one computer to another via email or flash drive whenever I know I’m going to need them someplace else. This is probably the main reason I’m loving google docs so much now.
So basically with docs you can create spreadsheets, documents, presentations, and forms that are used to collect data into spreadsheets. You can also organize docs into folders.
A major concern of some is being able to access docs while offline. For me this isn’t an issue as I am never off line unless my internet connection is down…which has become so rare for me I can’t even recall the last time it happened. But some people might want to access a presentation at a meeting without a connection or maybe update a document while on a plane.
Google answered this issue with Gears, a technology that installs onto your local computer and allows access to docs while you are disconnected from the Internet.
One more major feature I want to mention before I close is that docs can read and save as MS office documents. You can upload a Word document for example and it converts to a google document. You can also save a google document as a Word document or as a pdf.
Did I mention that Google docs are completely free? And you get several gig of free storage in which to store them?
Check out docs for yourself at http://docs.google.com